BigWorldAndSmallWorld Blog

Gems on China’s Silk Road Route

Posted in Travel and Adventure by Administrator on the November 12th, 2010

Every time I visit China, I like nothing better to go back soon. China’s high mountains, elegant rivers, springs and waterfalls, rare animals and plants, numerous historical spots and sites, distinctive operas, music and dances, rich and varied folk customs and styles , and its world-renowned cuisine, this fascinating country attracts a large number of domestic and foreign tourists even me a China native.
This summer our family went on a Silk Road journey that stretched through the entire northwest region of China. The Silk Road was opened about 138 BC in Western Han Dynasty and gradually over a thousand years built both sea and land routes stretched more than 7000 miles from Chang’an (now Xian) to the Mediterranean Sea. The purpose of the Silk Road was to trade China’s silk, tea, spices, pottery and Chinese inventions with Western’s horses, linen, seeds, plants and new ideas. Nobody traveled the entire Silk Road and camel was used to transport goods and people. The last Dynasty the Qing Dynasty finally closed the trade routes.
Besides climbing the Great Wall and seeing thousands of human-size Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses, our family found some favorite places along the Silk Road.
Grape Valley, Turpan
Turpan basin is located in the Valley of Tian Mountain’s east range. In Uygur, an ethnic group of China, Turpan means the low ground. In fact this place is 500 meters below sea level and is the second lowest place in the world after the Dead Sea. Green pearl-like grapes grow abundant in Turpan and grapes are what this place is famous for. We took a nice stroll at a grape valley shaded by thousands of grape vines. We visited a underground well museum and got a glimpse of the massive underground well system that keeps water supply to this region’s grape growers. We even tasted freshly squeezed grape juice. It was so yummy!
Mingsha Mountain and Crescent Spring, Dunhuang
The scenic area of Mingsha Mountain and Crescent Spring is located 5 km south of Dunhuang city. The name of Mingsha Mountain came from the echoing sound produced by the moving sand. Within Mingsha Mountain lies the Crescent Spring which resembles a crescent fallen down into the dessert. Being a place where spring meets desert, the area is a natural spectacle and has been known as a “desert wonder” from ancient to modern times. Climbing the sand mountain was a challenge, however the view from the top was definitely rewarding. We also rode the camels for the first time in our life. It was a lot of fun!
Mogao Grottoes, Dunhuang
The Mogao Grottoes, commonly known as the “Thousand Buddha Caves”, are located 25 km southeast of Dunhuang city. There are 735 existing caves of various shapes from ten dynasties, and the caves contain some 45000 sq meter of murals and 2400 painted sculptures. At any given day, only 30+ caves are open to the tourists. We saw a huge stone Buddha statue (over 30 foot tall) and a 20 foot lying Buddha statue. The murals and sculptures were colorful and vivid; we were amazed by ancient Chinese’s skills and craftsmanship.